Doorstop: ANZAC House



ANDREW HASTIE: Good morning, it's good to be with you. Thanks for coming. It's always flattering when you find out you're living inside the head of someone like the king of Western Australia, Premier Mark McGowan. I saw his comments overnight and I'm not surprised he's in China running down Australian MPs. This is a prison guard looking for work now that the pandemic has finished. He's out of his intellectual depth and it's clear that he failed to read Foreign Minister Penny Wong's speech this week at the National Press Club, which demonstrated quite clearly that we are in an unprecedented change in our strategic circumstances, and to use her words requires unprecedented coordination and ambition of statecraft for the Australian Government. There's much in that speech which is realistic and hard headed and Mark McGowan clearly hasn't read it. So he's undermining the national interest by going overseas and running down Australian MPs who in fact, share almost a bipartisan position with the Albanese Government on defence and foreign policy matters. There is much work to be done in Western Australia and when you look at the hospital crisis, when you look at the housing crisis, and the need for infrastructure investment in the regions, he'd be better off focusing his attention on those issues and working on delivery for the people of Western Australia. That's my focus and I'll continue to hold the state government account and look forward to an opportunity to return a Liberal government in 2025.

JOURNALIST: Would you say this is embarrassing for the Premier?

ANDREW HASTIE: I think it is embarrassing. I think it reveals his mode of operation, the way he talks to people when the cameras aren't running. Remember that was a hot mic, the camera revealed what he has been saying behind closed doors and so my question is what else has he been saying? I don't trust this guy. Is he working in our national interest? I don't know.

JOURNALIST : It's a quite [inaudible] claim to make as the Premier of the state.

ANDREW HASTIE: Yes well, he's over there and he's running down an Australian MP. But like I said, it's up to him to explain his remarks.

JOURNALIST: Do you want an apology for what he said?

ANDREW HASTIE: Look, I'm not going to expect an apology from Mark McGowan, but I do want him to focus on the people of Western Australia, fixing a hospital crisis, a housing crisis and investing in our regions. There are three areas he could focus on. He could also focus on delivering AUKUS, he hasn't said a whole lot about AUKUS and one of the key milestones for AUKUS going forward is the establishment of Rotational Force-West here in Perth. In 2027 we're going to see five nuclear boats, four from the US, one from the UK - there's plenty of work to be done. Premier Mark McGowan needs to be leading on this.

JOURNALIST: What's your view about our relationship with China?

ANDREW HASTIE: We have to have a good relationship with China. We need to have stable relationship with China and it's good to be able to trade with China. A lot of our prosperity here in Western Australia is built on our trade links with China, as it is with Japan, as it is with Indonesia and India and the United States and South Korea. We're a trading nation, we always have been. But that doesn't mean that we ignore the strategic realities that we're facing and as Penny Wong said in her speech, we are facing unprecedented strategic circumstances in the Indo Pacific region. And we have to respond. So being a good policy maker is actually understanding that trade and national security are linked, you have to balance those things and that's why you can't focus on one to the exclusion of the other. That's why I acknowledge trade is very important. But also national security is very important and I don't think Mark McGowan appreciates that, which is why I said that he is out of his intellectual depth and he needs to read Penny Wong's speech and learn that he is part of Team Australia and should act accordingly when he's overseas.

JOURNALIST: What should the Premier be doing to be acting accordingly?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, he should be taking the government line which is very clear. As I said, he needs to read Penny Wong's speech. Running down Australian MPs, particularly senior Opposition members in a defence portfolio in China, I think, is not in the national interest. You've alluded to the fact that you and the Premier have both served this nation, does that make it any more hurtful when you heard his comments? I'm not hurt. I'm a grown man and politics is full of barbs. But I think what it does reveal is that there's a lack of character on his part. For the last 12 months he has had big shots at the Liberal Party, he's made some very extravagant comments, I think Peter Dutton has shown immense restraint by not responding to those. But when he goes overseas and he starts chipping away at members of the Shadow Cabinet like myself, we have to respond. That's what I've done today and I'm putting it on the record because this guy has enjoyed unparalleled popularity in this state, it's time we took him on. And so today, I'm taking him on and he can expect to be taken on over the next few years as we seek to return to a Liberal government in 2025.

JOURNALIST: What about the comment that you swallowed some sort 'Cold War pills'? Is there any merit to that comment?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, if he's suggesting I've swallowed Cold War pills, he should ask Richard Marles, our Defence Minister, and Penny Wong, our Foreign Minister, whether they're taking the same medication as well, whether they're swallowing the same 'Cold Wat pills', because I tell you what, there's not a whole lot of daylight between us when it comes to Australia's defence and foreign policy at the moment.

JOURNALIST: This is the second time recently has been caught out on a hot mic speaking [inaudible]. Do you think after this incident he might [inaudible]?

ANDREW HASTIE: As a naval man, he would have heard the expression "loose lips, sink ships" and I think he should reflect on that. I think he should watch his mouth a little more closely.

JOURNALIST: Just moving away from these comments slightly, is WA too reliant on China?

ANDREW HASTIE: One of the big paradoxes in public life is that we have all sorts of different relationships with different countries. Our closest security partner is United States, our biggest trading partner at the moment is China. We know there is a fair bit of tension between those two countries, yet as a middle power, we're trying to negotiate our way through some of those challenges. WA has a lot of prosperity from China, a lot of my constituents are employed by companies that export direct to China so I acknowledge that. But we also have to be realistic about our security and our sovereignty and that's why in my defence portfolio, I'll always seek to uphold our best interests and ensure that we are secure into the future and that means at the moment, working closely with people like Richard Marles, our Defence Minister, to ensure that AUKUS is delivered in a timely manner to secure our future. Thank you.